So often when people are sick it is difficult to enter into their pain. Often afraid to truly experience and realize how the other person feels. Afraid to enter into the emotions, trial and sacrifice that often comes with illness. We can pray and empathize and love - but the ability to expressively, openly and truly sit with someone through their pain is not always easy.
There is a part of us that wants to get as far away from the sickness as possible because we don’t want it anywhere near our homes, our bodies or our lives. We aren’t prepared for the emotions that can overtake us. We aren’t ready for how this level of sadness, despair and helplessness will make us feel. We try to preserve our own peace and move silently away from the pain- vowing to pray in the background.
My aunt died of cancer almost 2 years ago. I went to doctors' appointments, fought with surgeons, calibrated medications, changed bandages, dried tears and prayed for hours for restoration. But when she tried to show me the lumps that were developing on her head because of the spreading tumors- I couldn’t bring myself to see them. It was so hard to walk into that level of real pain. My heart couldn’t take the weight. And so, I declined to see the hard truth and instead opted for the medium awareness I had of her reality. I walked with her from the initial diagnosis until this somber moment so how could I be so afraid to walk the rest of the way? My body trembled with the thought that there was a pain that I could not heal, and I could not see a way back from. My aunt lived courageously and is now with the Lord (I’m sure she’s making him laugh with her joyous spirit and kind jokes). I know I served her well and loved her with all I had.
But as I now deal with my own health situation, I realize how hard it is to truly be a companion to the sick. To show empathy and walk with someone through the pain the way Jesus sat in the dirt with the woman accused of adultery, the way he found the Samaritan at the well, the way he walked with the blind man in his disbelief and healed him anyway. There is a depth of love which I’m learning exists in the world. One that puts aside comfort and preservation. One that rushes to find the lost, broken, hurting and diseased. One that becomes a balm.
Are we willing to become a balm? One who is anointed to heal and comfort. To walk into the fray with others and sit, experience and understand the pain. I’ve come to grips with my need to do this. I’ve understood the blessing of being able to eat when once unable to because of rapid allergic reactions. I’ve realized the blessing of having a companion through the pain and uncertainty. I realize I can be a balm and I also need a balm. I realize the need we have for each other.
And so, I challenge you to be available to help lift the load another bears. To support the load another carries. To see the pain another withstands. To walk in and through the loss another endures. To see how they see. Basically, give more of yourself, so you can expand and increase your ability to feel and become a person who is able to walk fully into the unknown and provide the light. To love more, understand more and care more about the world around you.